A person is known by the company that keeps her. So, that gets me chewing my lip in office. Presenting the assortments that umber my office space:
1. There is one guy who is the human equivalent of the Microsoft spell-check. His eyebrows get all squiggly when I say something he wants to dismiss. Like the other day, I was telling Z and J about Lokhandwala and 4 and a 1/2 bungalows. His eyebrows became ‘Ernie the earthworm’ and he said, ‘I’ve lived in Versova all my life and I’ve only heard about Chaar bangla and Saat bangla.’
Everyone laughed at me while he smirked and sharpened a pencil.
2. There is another guy, SM, who hangs around my desk cracking PJs before he leaves work. The other day, I told him, ‘Let’s go someplace for dinner.’ ‘You mean, like, for food?’, he asks.
3. Z, my colleague and roomie looks me over in the canteen.
‘You are not wheatish.’
‘You’re more like corn.’
‘Yes, you’re corny.’
4. Then there’s S who’s like a cowboy poet. He walks in with vengeful artistry in his eyes. He’s the one most likely to sing, ‘Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest; Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.’ He got locked inside his house yesterday. He lives alone.
5. J, who pointed at my computer, and laughed derisively. ‘Windows XP..How bourgeois!’ Quite uncalled for.
6. SC who constantly asks me, ‘You have a boyfriend?’
‘Yes’, I reply, sometimes a little uncertainly if I’ve had a really big fight.
‘Why do you ask?’
‘You know, you’re so creative and all..’
‘No, you may be making him up.’
7. MP, my project manager, who rudely told me that my ‘no-carbs’ at night diet will never work. Because ‘There’s so much processed food around, carbohydrates float around in the air. You’re breathing the stuff, man! No use skipping the rice.’
8. SC again,‘This boyfriend you say you have, he…’
‘What do you mean I say I have? I do have. I’ll have you know that I don’t need to make up a boyf..’
SC, ‘Yeah, yeah, this guy…he has a job?’
‘Yes, of course. Why?’
‘Then how do you get along with him?’
I mean, do I give out some kind of a vibe?
9. FG, who looks like Garfield, quotes Hemingway and Aristotle all the time. Refers to the philosopher as ‘The Totle’. The other day, the phone was ringing. By the time I could reach it, he’d got to it and was murmuring conspiratorially into the receiver. (The usual tactic employed while ordering vegetable biryani from an Iranian place – so as not to be ridiculed as the village idiot.)
‘Whose phone?’, I asked.
‘The office’s phone.’
‘No, I mean whose phone?’, I ask again pointing to the instrument.
‘That wasn’t a phone, it was a phone call.’
Come and get your re-incarnated cat, Jon.
10. Lady P begins all her conversations with ‘Jet Airways…’
‘This review is going to take a lot of time?’
‘Jet Airways didn’t refund my money. Oh yeah, lot of time. So, I was flying Jet to Delhi and…’
Or in the canteen:
‘Maybe we ought to tell these guys that rice is actually boiled in the water, not just washed and served.’
‘Jet Airways serves this kind of rice.’
11. But as a carry forward of my colleagues in my previous office, I exasperate them all with my tales of Mocha. So I’m fondly (and yes, I kid myself here), they call me ‘Mochta’.
So, if these are the people I’m with, what does that make me?
‘Very very different from Sylvia Plath’, as the ‘Totle would have said.